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HOUSTON Activists with the NAACP, along with other black leaders, assembled Thursday across the street from Ryan Middle school, drawing what they called a line in the sand against the Houston Independent School District.

Why remove students from their neighborhood in order for those students to get a quality education, asked James Douglas, an attorney with the civil rights organization.

The people protesting oppose HISD s plans to close Ryan and transfer students to Cullen Middle School. They also oppose the district s plans to consolidate Jones High School with Sterling.

It sends a message that the children in these communities cannot get a quality education in their own communities, said NAACP president Rev. Reginald Lillie. They re having to get up early in the morning, travel across town. It creates a problem for them.

But according HISD S chief of high schools, merging the campuses will help improve education for the students involved. Orlando Riddick said the schools are under populated now, and a higher head count would lead to more funding and better programs.

Creating a consolidation helps create choice, said Riddick. It helps create options that are afforded to every kid across the district.

But opponents weren t convinced, and planned to speak out at a school board meeting in advance of a final vote on the consolidation plan scheduled for Thursday evening.

We re saying we re no longer going to accept it, said Lillie.

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